"Avengers: Infinity War" reportedly cost around $300 million and was 10 years in the making. This doesn't mean the film took 10 years to make. It just means that all that time was required to amass virtually all the Marvel characters into a single entity. The other Marvel movies can be viewed as a sort of prequel to this one.
For that matter, "Infinity War" is essentially a prequel, too – the second installment of the two-part story is scheduled to arrive with a heavy thud next summer.
But here's the thing: These movies never really end because there's always something unresolved hanging out there in deep space. In "Infinity War," Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and the others go up against Thanos (Josh Brolin), the implacable, granitic behemoth who seeks out the infinity stones that will give him infinite power. His ultimate goal is modest: He wants to wipe out half of the universe's population.
Anthony and Joe Russo, the brothers who brought us the last two "Captain America" movies, pile on the action. There's a reason why this movie is called "Infinity War" – it often seems as if we are watching one interminable battle scene. The script, by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, adds the requisite doses of off-kilter Marvel humor, but what is mostly missing is an emotional power to match the graphic thrills. One of the reasons "Black Panther" worked as well as it did is because its story functioned on both a visceral and an emotional level.
Some of the sequences are undeniably thrilling but, at about 2-1/2 hours, overkill sets in early. Diehard Marvel fans will no doubt lap all this stuff up – at the packed screening I attended, even the tiniest Marvel minutiae was greeted with whoops – but I was longing for the showdown with Thanos to bring an end to it all. And of course, there is no end. That's why they call it "Infinity War." Grade: B- (Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, language, and some crude references.)